Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last day to buy tickets : "Over Here!: NYC during WWII"

Only a few tickets left!  Join LW! for:

Over Here!: New York City During World War II

A slide lecture and book signing with Lorraine B. Diehl
with a special introduction by New York Times "Streetscapes" columnist Christopher Gray
Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 6:00PM

Over Here! is a wonderfully nostalgic and inspiring look at the center of the home front during World War II: New York City.   From the Ansonia's donation of their cornice to the metal scrap drive, to Rockefeller Center's Victory Gardens and carless streets, Over Here! captures the excitement, trepidation, and bustle of our home city during wartime. Filled with the reminiscences of ordinary and famous New Yorkers, including Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, and Angela Lansbury, and rich in surprising detail--from Macy's blackout boutique to Mickey Mouse gas masks for kids-this engaging look back is an illuminating tour of New York on the front lines of the home front.

"I loved this book and all the great memories it captured." - Tom Brokaw

Lorraine B. Diehl
is the author of The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station (1996); Subways: The Tracks That Built New York City (2004); and The Automat: The History, Recipes, and Allure of Horn & Hardart's Masterpiece (2002).

Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance
Call 212-496-1714 or email

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No approval for illegal rooftop addition!

Yesterday at Public Hearing, the LPC reviewed 12-14 West 68th Street in light of its renewed application for legalization of the illegal rooftop addition.  This time, with modifications (reminder: in 2009, as-is legalization was denied). 

Following a brief project summary by the architect, members of the public testified in strong opposition to the proposal.  LW's statement was complemented by strong letters from other advocacy organizations, like the Historic Districts Council, as well as architects, professional artists, residents of the Hotel des Artistes, lawyers, and others concerned about this issue.

Next, it was the Commissioners' turn. 
Comm. Roberta Gratz kicked discussion off with a POW!  That there is a new owner, she stated, has no impact on the decision of the Commission.  The Commissioners go to great pains on a regular basis to work out the details of rooftop additions visible from the public way, which this certainly is.  Had this come through via legal channels in the first place, there is no way she can believe the addition would have been approved.  They cannot, she declared, approve it now.

With her words to inspire them, the other Commissioners (Diana Chapin, Christopher Moore, Elizabeth Ryan, and Pablo Vengoechea) agreed that they most certainly could not approve of the illegal addition with the modifications proposed.  With no quorum, they were unable to take an official vote.  And so the hearing was closed and all departed.

, later in the afternoon, LW! received word that upon reconvening after lunch, the Commission regained a quorum and went back to vote on 12-14 West 68th Street!  The details from here are fuzzy, but word on the street is that the Commission voted to not approve of the modified addition.  Whether it was fully denied or if it was simply not approved (and the applicant was directed to consult with staff for possible modifications to the proposal) we cannot yet say.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Judgment Day for this illegal rooftop addition

Nearly a year ago (April 2009), the community turned out in tremendous force to testify before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) at Public Hearing.  The matter: a rooftop addition constructed illegally at 12-14 West 68th Street, whose owners sought a permit to legalize the entire structure after-the-fact with a legalization permit from the LPC.

Together--advocacy groups, private citizens, expert consultants, and others!--we urged the LPC to deny the application to legalize.  And success was ours!

Now, in 2010, the property has a new owner with a new architect who seek to legalize the rooftop addition, this time with minor modifications.  What's changed?
  The new design proposes to change up the fenestration on the illegal fifth floor to mimic that of the floors below, and to remove the cupola-type feature. 

Cosmetic alterations, but the fundamental issue remains: this full floor addition was constructed illegally and should be fully removed, not tweaked.  The integrity of the Landmarks Law and the public’s faith in the process remain at stake.

JOIN US at Public Hearing of the LPC TOMORROW, March 16, 2010.  The item is slated for review at approximately 12:45PM and will be heard at the offices of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor.

12-14 West 68th Street, a
Queen Anne-style house designed by Louis Thouvard and built in 1895, with an attached studio building designed by Edwin C. Georgi and built in 1925.  In blue overlay, the illegally constructed rooftop addition.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BE HEARD: CB7 to review proposal for tennis "bubbles" in Central Park

Tonight, LW! will join others on the West Side at our local Community Board as the Parks & Preservation and Green Committees receive a presentation from the Parks Department on proposed "bubbles" over tennis courts in Central Park
  • WHAT: CB7 meeting to discuss proposed "bubbles" over tennis courts in Central Park
  • WHEN: TONIGHT, Thursday, March 11, at 6:30PM
  • WHERE: CB7 offices, 250 Broadway at 87th Street.
As we understand it, the meeting will be conceptual in nature, meaning no design documents will be available.  This is our opportunity to attend, hear what Parks is proposing, and enter into the discussion on what a project like this could mean for Central Park. 

What kind of impacts could tennis bubbles have?  This brings to mind concerns for aesthetics (is this appropriate in a Scenic Landmark?), the environment (could the installation and removal and the "bubbles" harm root systems, for example?), and fauna (how could a bubble impact bird populations?).  Many questions to be answered.  Tonight's CB7 meeting is the place to begin for answers

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

West-Park approved by City Planning! On to City Council!

As reported by Cristiana P.

West-Park Presbyterian Church is one big step closer to becoming an official New York City Individual Landmark!

This morning at Public Meeting, the City Planning Commission (CPC), led by Comm. Amanda Burden, unanimously approved of the landmarking of West-Park.  The CPC's vote means that the designation now moves to the City Council for review (public hearing date TBD). 

The game is not yet won!  The City Council does have the ability to modify or deny the designation, now supported by both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Planning.  If you haven't already, NOW IS THE TIME to write to the City Council!

Tell our elected representatives how important West-Park and its landmarking is to you!  For contact information and to read letters from others committed to saving West-Park, visit the West-Park advocacy webpage.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Visit us at the HDC Annual Conference Opening Night!

For the second year in a row, LW! will join with our fellow NYC advocates at the Historic Districts Council's Annual Conference Opening Night Reception

WHEN: TONIGHT, March 5, from 6 to 8PM
WHERE: The LGBT Community Center, Manhattan

Come learn about preservation issues at play on the West Side and in all of New York's boroughs. 

The first 50 visitors to the LW! table will receive a FREE LW! signature tote bag!  The envy of preservationistas everywhere ...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Design review committee makes a difference in Central Park

As reported by Lauren R.

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reviewed a proposal by Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) who, as new tenant, plans to revive the Mineral Springs Comfort Station, located in Central Park, just northwest of the Sheep Meadow.
The original plans presented to the LW! Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) Committee called for minor alterations to the exterior of the building as well as illuminated signage.  Both LW! and the LPC found illuminating the signage to be excessive and inappropriate for the park--it is, after all, the landscaping of Central Park that is the destination, not LPQ.  

The issue of lit signage also concerned other advocacy groups.  The Historic Districts Council stated that "the installation of such a sign would start an uncomfortable precedent of brightly branding Central Park with corporate logos.”  We couldn't agree more!

LW! is pleased to see that this concessionaire is ready and willing for open dialogue to ensure responsible stewardship of this important Scenic Landmark, Central Park.

Visit hyper-local news site for more on the session's proceedings.

TOP: Mineral Springs building, as seen today.
BOTTOM: Mineral Springs Pavilion, 1868.  As pictured in New York 1880 by Robert A.M. Stern, 1999, page 95.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Education program featured on

LW's award-winning youth education program, Keeping the Past for the Future, was highlighted on, a neighborhood-centric new site, this morning.

Keeping the Past for the Future (KPF) was first launched in 1999 as a way for educating UWS school children about the architecture and history of their neighborhood. This academic year alone, the program has reached 866 elementary school students ... and there are still more sessions to come!  That number is up from 523, the number of students KPF worked with by this same time last year.  That's tremendous growth we're extremely proud of!

To find out more about KPF and whether or not we're active in your child's school--or if you're an educator interested in partnering with LW!--contact LW's Director of Education, Debi Germann at

Photo: Second grade students from P.S. 87 sketch the rowhouses across from their school during their Neighborhood Walk.